Pervis Payne’s Sister Says He’s ‘Ecstatic’ To Be Released From Death Row.
Pervis Payne’s sister told The Washington Newsday that he was “ecstatic” when he learned he would not be executed.
Payne, a 54-year-old Black man, was condemned to death in 1987 in Millington, Tennessee, for the murder of a white mother and her 2-year-old daughter, but he has always maintained his innocence.
On Tuesday, a Tennessee judge overturned his two death convictions.
Judge Paula Skahan of Shelby County Criminal Court had scheduled a hearing for Payne’s counsel on December 13 to argue that he could not be executed due to a mental condition.
However, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said this week that the state would no longer pursue Payne’s execution because a state-hired expert “could not say that Payne’s intellectual functioning is outside the range for intellectual disability.”
Rolanda Holman, Payne’s sister, said she and her brother “shared some tears” over the phone after hearing the news.
The Washington Newsday quoted Holman as saying, “We were all in disbelief.” “‘Let me pinch myself to make sure this is genuine,’ he even remarked to me. We weren’t expecting the news to arrive in the way it did. He was pleased to say the least. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he was relieved to learn that it was real.” Payne was photographed closely embracing his lawyer, Kelley Henry, just after entering the courthouse on Tuesday.
Henry told The Washington Newsday that he was “overwhelmed with emotion.” “It was as if 34 years of agony, terror, and trauma had all been released at the same time. All I could do was embrace him and tell him, ‘I have you, it’ll be fine.'” Holman, who was 13 at the time her brother, “Bubba,” was condemned to death, says the relief she felt knowing her brother’s execution would never happen was incredible.
“It’s overwhelming in a positive way,” she added, “to know that we can wake up in the morning and not have to worry about their being a date set for him.”
Prosecutors are pressing for Payne to be re-sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, which would make him ineligible for parole until he is 85 years old, according to Henry.
She plans to argue that Payne’s sentences should be served simultaneously, according to Henry. That’d be great. This is a condensed version of the information.